Earth's History Trapped in the Mantle

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Science  12 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5468, pp. 988-989
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5468.988

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The isotopic composition of noble gases in the mantle can provide clues for the early history of Earth. In this Perspective, Kaneoka discusses the insights gained from a new analysis of the noble gas isotopic composition of oceanic island basalts from Hawaii and Iceland by Trieloff et al. (page 1036). The results indicate an atmospheric origin of mantle noble gases, supporting the idea that the whole mantle contains pristine heavier noble gases with isotopic compositions that cannot be distinguished from those of the atmosphere, except for the radiogenic components, with important implications for the homogenization of the early Earth.